Members of parliament and state assemblypersons at a brainstorming session.
Much has been done to make concrete the state vision, Penang2030: A Family-focused Green and Smart State. Over the past two months, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and his Penang2030 team have concentrated their efforts on completing the Penang2030 official guide, which will serve as easy reference for all to better understand the vision and to support it.
The launch of the guide took place at Loft29 in George Town on April 27. The print version was distributed during the launch ceremony, while the digital copy can be easily accessed at Penang2030’s official website, www.penang2030.com.
The guide was not produced solely based on the efforts of the Chief Minister’s Office and the advisory team. In fact, doing so would undermine the core purpose of Penang2030 – which is to stimulate civic participation in policymaking. The phrase “Democratising policymaking” best describes this notion. For this to happen, feedback and suggestions from stakeholders ranging from the civil service to the private sector is imperative.
Two open days to engage with the public and corporations were held on March 14-15, the first on the mainland and the second on the island. Citizens, young and old, who represented start-ups, social enterprises, civil society organisations (CSOs), companies, freelancers, as well as retirees, just to name a few, were enlightened by facilitators from Penang Institute and ThinkCity on the general concept of Penang2030, its four themes and the strategic initiatives to realise this far-sighted vision. In return, they passionately contributed ideas and openly shared their worries.
To top it off, brainstorming sessions with the civil service, including members of parliament, state assemblypersons, heads of departments and heads of agencies, were also conducted to determine their current and upcoming plans for the state. The success of Penang2030 ultimately hinges on the collective effort of each citizen in every fold of society. State Secretary Dato’ Seri Farizan Darus, for example, tasked all head of departments and agencies with the responsibility of briefing their colleagues the ins and outs of Penang2030 once they returned to their offices, and the same should be done among family and friends to trigger a domino effect – making certain that the vision is as inclusive as possible.
The received input was then synthesised and integrated into The Penang2030 Guide. Also contained within the guide are key initiatives and targets that the state executive councilors aspire to achieve by the end of 2030, which came about after meticulous deliberation. It is worth noting that the strategic initiatives are not set in stone, and may evolve in the future to correspond to variables such as the advancement of technology.
Stakeholders representing different segments of society and industry have shown interest in collaborating under the umbrella of Penang2030. Case in point is healthcare company TopCare Penang, who proposed their strategies to achieve the state vision. On the administrative side, there have been clear efforts in reorganising current projects under the umbrella of Penang2030 to inspire new like-minded projects and initiatives. For instance, the recent state-level National Youth Award Presentation held to recognise the efforts of our youths and boost civic participation corresponded specifically with one of Penang2030’s strategic initiative: to boost participation of youths, women and seniors in community life. Interestingly, State Executive Councillor Chong Eng organised a discussion between the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) and Penang Institute in early April to brainstorm alternatives to achieve a more family-focused state.
Likewise, social enterprises are also reciprocating. The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) boot camp in Penang, co-organised by social enterprise Me.reka, the US Embassy and Positive X on April 6-7, tasked five groups of participants who were mentored by several members of the Penang2030 advisory team to design a solution that enables citizens to contribute to a greener and more digital-savvy Penang.
In short, Penang2030 is an invitation by the chief minister to the general public to collectively contribute towards a similar goal. While the administration plays a more facilitative role, each respective individual, organisation and company would be better placed to determine their own specific targets.
In the grand scheme of things, the pursuit for a family-focused green and smart state is similar to the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is not a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but it is something that we experience through our own efforts – as a collective and as individuals seeking our own goals.